Industrial Espionage

Pooley’s Corner: Was America’s Industrial Revolution Based on Trade Secret Theft?

When I was in Geneva trying to engage developing countries about the value of robust IP laws, occasionally I heard a response like this: “What hypocrites you are! The U.S. economy got its start by stealing from abroad. Why should today’s poor nations be denied the same opportunity to catch up?” The argument stung enough that I thought I should check out the real story. Here’s what I found.

On an early September day in 1789, Samuel Slater, 21 years old, boarded a ship in London to begin a voyage to New York. His family didn’t know he was doing this. He presented himself as a simple laborer, a farm hand. He was lying. Hidden in his pocket were his only official papers, identifying him as a recently released apprentice to a cotton mill. READ MORE

Amendment to Federal Criminal Procedural Rule Could Impact Trade Secret Cases

Much attention, including here at Trade Secrets Watch, has been focused in recent weeks on the Defend Trade Secret Act (“DTSA”), which overwhelmingly passed both houses of Congress in April and was signed into law by President Obama on May 11th. The DTSA gives companies new tools for combatting alleged trade secret theft, including a direct path to federal court via the addition of a private right of action to the Economic Espionage Act (EEA) and the ability to apply for ex parte seizure orders to prevent propagation or dissemination of stolen trade secrets. READ MORE

BREAKING: President Obama Signs Defend Trade Secrets Act Into Law

This afternoon, as anticipated, President Barack Obama signed the Defend Trade Secrets Act into law, wrapping up a lengthy bipartisan effort to bring trade secrets under federal system law. Some observed that the fact that President Obama chose to sign the bill into law publicly indicates the importance of the new law to the administration. READ MORE

In Biggest Expansion of IP Law in 70 Years, Congress Passes Defend Trade Secrets Act

Yesterday Congress passed federal trade secrets legislation (the “Defend Trade Secrets Act” or “DTSA”) by an overwhelming 410-2 vote.

The Wall Street Journal notes that the DTSA has been called the “most significant expansion” of federal intellectual property law in 70 years (since the Lanham Act was passed in 1946 to provide federal protection to trademarks). House Judiciary Chair Bob Goodlatte said the measure “will help American innovators protect their intellectual property from criminal theft by foreign agents and those engaging in economic espionage.” READ MORE

Federal Law or Another False Alarm? Senate Passes the Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2016 87-0. 

Relief may soon be coming for trade secrets plaintiffs longing for federal court. Last year we covered the introduction of the Defend Trade Secrets Act (DTSA), compared it to the Uniform Trade Secrets Act (UTSA), and questioned whether federal court under this new law would be a preferable venue to plaintiffs. Since then, the bill, like the many that came before it, died in Congress. READ MORE

Haven’t You Heard? Trade Secret Theft Can Occur in Unusual Ways

A recent development from the 3D printing world reminds us that threats of trade secret misappropriation are more varied than cyber-espionage or the disgruntled employee taking confidential information to a competitor. With exciting new technologies come “exciting” new ways to steal trade secrets. Sometimes all it takes to steal a secret is being a good listener. READ MORE

Money Is Time: A Note on Valuation and Sentencing in Criminal Trade Secrets Cases

Criminal trade secrets prosecutions tend to make national headlines, and for good reason. With fact patterns that often involve international intrigue, high technology, and millions of dollars in play, these cases can read like a James Bond flick. But while astronomical monetary figures make good copy, they also present vexing legal questions that can have drastic impacts on sentencing. READ MORE

Buried at Trial: Supplier of Earthmoving Equipment Gets Hit with $74M Verdict in Trade Secrets Theft Case

In the wake of an 8-week trial, Caterpillar Inc. has received a $74M verdict against it in the Northern District of Illinois after a jury found it guilty of exploiting a supply contract with Miller UK Ltd. to steal the company’s trade secrets. READ MORE

Throwback Thursday: Why Trade Secret Theft Isn’t Just a Digital Problem And What Businesses Can Do About It

With stories of cyberattacks and data breaches on a seemingly endless loop, businesses and governments have been doubling down on their efforts to protect digital information and assets.  But, in some industries, the greatest threat might still be a pair of quick hands.  For instance, in the restaurant industry, opening the kitchen doors to a new employee creates real risks.  As we’ve discussed, sometimes the decision whether to print or download can have major legal ramifications.  And with computer forensics technology growing in leaps and bounds, sometimes an old-school paper trail might be more enticing to would-be perps than a digital one.  That said, the FBI has a track record of turning up bags of shredded documents in grocery store dumpsters. READ MORE